Less than a week ago, Guillermo Del Toro announced to Deadline that we are taking Pinocchio out to the studios. If you haven't been exposed to this announcement, you can read it here:
Since then, this news has begun to unwind like a jiving mummy on the dance floor. Film sites including horror, geek and general Hollywood enthusiast websites have done spin-offs from the original article. Here's a little background on where this all started:
I came up with the idea to make Pinocchio into a stop motion film about seven or eight years ago. A group of friends and I started to put together a little pitch to present the idea to studios. At the time I had no interest in directing and one of my choices was to ask Guillermo Del Toro if he would be interested.
As fate would have it, I received a call from a gallery that was selling artwork from my Pinocchio book. They relayed to me that Guillermo Del Toro was just in the gallery and purchased a piece of Pinocchio art. I said "You have to be kidding me! Can you set up a lunch meeting with him?" They did. And in a couple days I was eating giant shrimp the size of rats (heads and all) across from GDT while presenting him my film.
This was before the first Hellboy movie came out (so a long time ago). I told him I wanted to make Pinocchio into a crude stop motion film much like my eastern European influences. Jan Svankmajer is one of my favorite filmmakers. If you are familiar with his work or that of the Quay Brothers, you can somewhat see how I envision Pinocchio. I told him about the color palette, tone and texture the film would have. Then I asked him if he would direct it. But due to my enthusiasm and vision for the film, he could see that i didn't need a director...I needed a producer.
He said he would produce it. Shortly after that, I was called into the Jim Henson company to meet with a producer there, only to find out that they were interested in turning my Pinocchio book into a film as well. I said, "That's funny. I just met with Guillermo Del Toro about the same thing and he's interested in producing it.
Things moved slowly for years, but moved nonetheless. I was working with another animation Director, Adam Parish King and a few writers at the time. But it was about two years ago that things really moved along. Guillermo wasn't happy with the treatments that he read. He didn't feel that they captured the true nature of the book. And after meeting with him, I agreed. He brought on a writer, Matthew Robbins, whom he has worked with before. This ended up being the push that got us back on track.
In the spring of 2010, three things happened. First, I went to New Zealand to work with GDT and Matthew on the treatment. This was a rough week, but after a few days of pounding out ideas, we created a springboard for the script. Secondly, I was teamed up with an experienced animation director, who would direct along side me. This was Mark Gustafson who worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox. The two of us got along great (for a couple of cynical old bats) and shared a cohesive vision. Third (and most importantly) we received a development deal from French Studio, Pathe.
This development money was used to build a team of artists and place them on the Jim Henson Company lot. Together, we developed the look of the film during three months of the summer.
Now, onto the studios...